I have averaged almost 11,000 meals every decade, but this one dinner changed me forever. It’s been over 25 years and it still impacts me today—and I didn’t eat a bite. Instead, I served this meal to ten other college students.
At Michigan State University, my Christian group, the Navigators, emphasized a few things: discipleship, the importance of scripture and reaching the world for Christ. This dinner took place during a Navigator summer training program. One special night, our program director decided to open our eyes to a serious world situation. He seated ten Christian college students at each dinner table. Each student represented 1/10 of the world’s population.
As a server, I was instructed to serve the person in seat 1 first. That guy represented the wealthiest 10 percent of people on the planet.
I served him a steak, a baked potato with sour cream and butter, a side dish, a salad with dressing, and chocolate cake for desert.
The next few people, seated 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 got a flavorful chicken dish on rice, some vegetable and a cold ice tea. Those five college students represented roughly half of the world’s population and still ate a good dinner.
People seated in chairs 7, 8 and 9 ate plain white rice and drank a glass of water.
The last person, 10, received only a glass of water for dinner—nothing else. He represented the poorest 10 percent of people on the planet. This last group suffered from “food insecurity” which means very poor nutrition, chronic hunger and no guarantee of any food tomorrow.
Gorging on a steak while some of your friends ate nothing at all? Uncomfortable. The people eating a steak dinner began feeling guilty. Some couldn’t even finish their meal. In a microcosm, each ten-person table represented the dietary reality of 100% of the earth’s human population.
I’ve never forgotten serving that meal decades ago. As Christians we’re taught not to compare ourselves with others. II Corinthians 10:12 (RSV) states:
Not that we venture to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.
Comparing yourself to others isn’t always bad. One summer my spiritual leaders disregarded this solid Christian principle and opened my eyes. The truth I experienced that night rooted itself deep in my heart and it’s this:
I’m one of the most blessed people on this planet—and probably so are you.
All images come from Pixabay.com. The man with the oxen is plowing a rice field in Bali and the eye effect was created by a man with the user name “geralt”.
Disclaimer: This dinner took place decades ago, so my memory might be a little off. It may have been 4 people who ate plain white rice and 4 people who ate the chicken dinner. The rest of the story I’m sure of.
The Ignorance Survey
The Ignorance Survey is a short web-based quiz testing our knowledge about the state of the world. I flunked their quiz, but was tremendously encouraged. We are seeing major breakthroughs after decades of fighting against such tough problems as illiteracy, measles, overpopulation and extreme poverty. (Just click on the link.)
Heifer isn’t a Christian organization, but their ability to free families from poverty and help them become self-sufficient is inspiring. A gift of animals provides the family with nutrition, a source of income and fertilizer. Even better, goats, chickens, cows, geese etc. all reproduce. My link takes you to a page containing a video which explains how this program works.
Compassion is a Christian ministry which partners with local churches around the world to lift children out of poverty by providing them with medical, nutritional, educational and spiritual opportunities they otherwise never would have had.